The common thread between all of these extraordinary individuals? Gratitude. Each one is grateful to have either survived their journey and inspired to help their fellow veterans. Or they are like you and I, ordinary Americans, filled with gratitude for the country we are blessed to live in and the freedoms which we have. They have used that gratitude to fuel their work to serve and honor our veterans.
So today, I will take a page from Carolyn and Rob’s book of gratitude, as I reflect on those who sacraficed to serve us. I am filled with gratitude for these heroes who gave their lives for something bigger than themselves…..
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
A few weeks back I wrote about persistence, a common thread in all the amazing people I interview for Charity Matters. Most of these individuals, were dealt a bad hand in life and yet, how they chose to play it, is what makes them so inspiring. They not only refused to be defined by that hand, but rather they persisted in re-defining that experience into something life changing for others.
The other day I stumbled onto a major road block for a project that I have been working on and frankly, I was pretty frustrated and unsure which way to step next. I was driving through the tunnels on the 110 freeway when I looked up to see the sign…literally….which days before read RESIST and someone had now reworked it to read PERSIST.
In that moment, I knew that I would trudge on ahead, undeterred, fearless and committed to making a dream a reality, exactly like the 1.5 million people who have changed out world by taking their bad hand and turning it into a non-profit.
“When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, suddenly the work will finish itself.”
Years ago when a group of friends and I set out to create a nonprofit to provide chaplains at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, we did so with the singular goal that if we just helped one child then we would have been successful. Our motto was and is, “One spirit, one soul, one child at a time.” The goal was huge and yet small and realistic.
There were so many things that made our goal achievable and yet there was one characteristic that was critical to our success and that was perseverance. We refused to give up until we had accomplished our goal. A trait I am confident that every nonprofit founder would agree is necessary to create change.
This week Charity Matters has another milestone and because I am a big believer in celebrating each step along the journey, we will celebrate this one on Thursday. In looking back, it is clear that perseverance, tenacity and simply putting one step in front of another…is what moves us forward. Sometimes slowly, but eventually we get there and that is worth acknowledging.
“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”
Booker T. Washington
This past weekend I went to Arizona to visit my aunt who just turned 80. She is a pistol, looks 60ish, still works, has four grown children, a handful of grandchildren, a boyfriend she adores and is full of life. On our drive home, my dad, my sister and I discussed that my aunt would probably live forever because her zest for life is simply contagious and she is so happy.
The topic of happiness got me thinking, so as I reflected upon my weekend and we all begin a new week, I thought I would channel my aunt and that this might just make you smile and perhaps even happy….
As we begin this new week, think about what makes you happy and make sure to spend some time doing more of whatever that is…..
“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”
A question that I am often is asked is, “What do you think is the most important thing to give to a cause you care about?”
My answer: Your time and attention.
Truly these are your greatest gifts. In our insane world, with information coming at us all at a rapid pace, it is easy to ignore what or who is in front of you. It is much harder to put down your device and give the gift of your undivided attention.
When we focus what truly matters to us, it is that gift of attention that is the rarest and purest form of generosity.
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
I am constantly inspired of how goodness creates more goodness.
The past eight weeks I have been in the privileged position of working with thousands of middle school students to teach them about service. This year our organization talked to our students about an amazing non-profit called Cell Phone for Soldiers, that was started by two teenagers in 2004……you all will hear their story on Wednesday.
What was magical, was sharing a real life story about two kids who made a difference and how quickly, their story inspired thousands to do the same. Goodness does create goodness and thousands of candles can be lit from a single flame.
“Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.”
I have to confess, that despite the sunshine, I had a little dark cloud cross my path the other day.
The weather was spectacular and my heart full of gratitude and anticipation for something I have been working on for quite sometime. Then an unexpected text, sent my mood in a totally different direction.
In my somewhat emotional state, I began looking for quotes of inspiration and landed on an article about Gandhi….a sign or just luck, who knows?
As I read about this amazing man and his message of service, I realized that somehow I was calming down.
It was reading this that brought me back to what matters:
“And when you see the good in people it becomes easier to motivate yourself to be of service to them.
By being of service to other people, by giving them value you not only make their lives better.
Over time you tend to get what you give.
And the people you help may feel more inclined to help other people.
And so you, together, create an upward spiral of positive change that grows and becomes stronger.”
Sometimes, life is funny the way it throws us curves. If we stay focused on our course, we can learn to roll with the curves and know that we always have the power to make others lives better….. and our own.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone, and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
As March arrived, I started to get excited about seeing the sun again. We have had a very rainy cloudy winter here in LA. Thoughts of sun and warmth and light have been on my mind.
The more I pondered the topic of light, the more I began to think of light as an internal concept not just external. My mind went to those people who have an internal light that shines all the time. You know the ones that light up a room the moment they enter it?
I ran into one of those very special people last week in Texas and will be sharing that story on Wednesday. As we enter into spring and get ready for light, let’s think about trying to turn on our internal light and by doing so give others permission to do the same.
“People want to feel what they do makes a difference.”
On Wednesday, I shared the inspiring story of non-profit activist, author, CEO, leader, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom , Frances Hesslebein. Her life and example of being a servant leader was so inspiring that I needed to share more.
In speaking to Frances and my mutual friend, Mike Stallard, he told me that his favorite quote of hers is,
“To serve is to live.”
Today, Frances is 102 and still inspiring others through her work and life.
“Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”
The other day in looking through quotes from past presidents I was so inspired by these wise men, that it was hard to choose just one to share today. These quotes got me thinking about our country, who we are as a nation and where we began.
I am inspired in knowing that our forefathers knew we have to take care of one another and in the knowledge that as many things have changed, that need has not. We are our brother’s keepers and George Washington knew that, “Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”
“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”
With Valentines Day on Tuesday, who knew that we had another day to celebrate this week? Today, is National Random Acts of Kindness day…I know, who knew? This is actually such a wonderful way to start the long holiday weekend by doing a random act of kindness for someone. It can be as simple as a smile, putting coins in someone’s parking meter or even giving someone a compliment.
In case you need a few ideas or inspiration there is a non-profit called Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.org that has tips, ideas, lesson plans for simple ways to be kind and here is a video to get you thinking about how you can celebrate today and the act of kindness.
The most beautiful gift you can give is a little piece of yourself to make someone else’s day better. It will make you feel great and create a chain reaction of kindness. Imagine if our world was like this everyday, not just today…
So, here is wishing you a day filled with giving and receiving random acts of kindness. As the quote says, ” Remember there is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”
Today is Valentine’s Day, a day loved by some and despised by others. Regardless of where you sit on the Valentine’s spectrum it is a day to think about those you love, and what could be so bad about that?
I know, I know, Hallmark has commercialized the holiday but Valentine’s Day is nothing new, it has been celebrated since about 270 AD. The history goes that Pope Gelasius was not a huge fan of the pagan fertility celebration and decided to re-invent the day, so to speak, by honoring St. Valentine’s death instead…not so romantic…
The first Valentine’s cards or letters began in the 1400s. In Great Britain Valentine’s Day began to be celebrated around the 17th century and Americans began exchanging hand-made valentines, as early as the early 1700s.
According to the Greeting Card Association, it is estimated that 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards will be sent this year and according to Forbes, Americans will spend 18 billion dollars on Valentines purchases today.
So, whether you are a fan of the holiday or not. Acknowledging those we love on this day, is something human beings have been doing for centuries. We could all use a little more love in our world…regardless of your feelings about the holiday.
As Thoreau said, “There is no remedy for love but to love more.”